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Kids' Bikes Buying Guide

Kids' Bikes Buying Guide

Find the perfect bike

The right bike will help your child ride comfortably, avoid injury & truly discover the joy of riding a bike.

Let’s start with the basics—bike types

Also called “toddler trikes,” they combine the stability of a balance bike with the foot motion of a pedal bike.

Also called “push bikes” or “run bikes,” they have a pedal‑free design intended to transition toddlers from walking to riding with confidence.

Also called “training-wheel bikes,” they include stabilizing wheels that can be removed as the rider gains skill & confidence.

Often styled after BMX or mountain bikes, they’re uniquely designed to accommodate the needs of young riders.

Features to consider

Bikes, like kids, come in all shapes & sizes. Being familiar with their features will help you find the best bike for your child.
Handlebar rise

Handlebar rise

For young riders, a mid-rise handlebar (level with their belly button) is ideal. For experienced riders, ideal rise depends on riding style—more aggressive riders may enjoy a lower rise, & more casual riders may prefer a higher rise.

Standover height

Standover height

When standing over the top tube of the bike (in front of the seat), there should be an inch or two of clearance between the rider & the frame. This gap helps prevent injury in case the child slips forward while riding.

Frame weight

Frame weight

Lighter bike frames are almost always easier for young riders to manage. As a general rule, you should select the lightest bike you can find within your price range. Balance bikes: The frame should weigh no more than 30% of the rider’s body weight. Pedal bikes: The frame should weigh no more than 50% of the rider’s body weight.

Seat height

Seat height is the most accurate indicator of how a bike will fit your child, as bikes with the same size tire can fit a child very differently. Balance bikes: To properly ride a balance bike, the rider’s feet must be able to make contact with the ground & push off while remaining seated. Pedal bikes: Only the rider’s toes should touch the ground when seated.

Brake type

Any child’s bike is only as good as their ability to stop it. Regardless of the braking mechanism, before you place a child on a bike, it is essential that they know how to brake. Balance bikes: While the main source of stopping will always be the rider’s feet, hand brakes can help prevent injury, reduce shoe wear & better prepare a child to ride a pedal bike. Pedal bikes: Pedal bikes are usually equipped with either coaster brakes or hand brakes. Coaster brakes (also called “backpedal brakes”) let the rider slow down by reversing the pedal direction, which can be more intuitive for young riders.

Tire Size

Tire size (wheel diameter in inches) is the most common form of classification for youth bicycles. Balance bikes: While balance bikes are often considered to be “one‑size‑fits-all,” the size needs of an 18-month-old rider are very different than those of a 5-year-old rider. Pedal bikes: A child’s inseam is the most reliable way to determine correct tire size, but age & height can also be important indicators.

Find the right fit by tire size

Age: 18–24 mo. Height: 30"–33" Inseam: 10"–12" Type of bike: Balance

Age: 2–4 yr. Height: 33"–38" Inseam: 12"–15" Type of bike: Balance, Pedal

Age: 3–5 yr. Height: 38"–43" Inseam: 15"–18" Type of bike: Balance, Pedal

Age: 4–6 yr. Height: 43"–48" Inseam: 18"–22" Type of bike: Pedal

Age: 6–8 yr. Height: 46"–50" Inseam: 20"–24" Type of bike: Pedal

Age: 6–8 yr. Height: 48"–53" Inseam: 22"–25" Type of bike: Pedal

Age: 8–11 yr. Height: 53"–57" Inseam: 24"–28" Type of bike: Pedal

Age: 11+ yr. Height: >57" Inseam: >26" Type of bike: Pedal

Measuring inseam

The easiest way to measure your child’s inseam is to use a pair of their pants as a reference. Using a flexible tape measure, record the length of the seam that runs along the inside of the pant leg—from the crotch all the way to the edge of one leg.
Adult bike buying guide

Family fun

Learn about adult bikes from our adult bike buying guide & get the whole fam involved.

Kids’ bike buying guide

Time to ride

Now that you have all the info, check out our kids’ bike collection & choose their ride.

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